To some, moths are the winged creatures of nightmares, with their dusty facades and the ability to eat anything you cherish – be it your favorite sweater, wool rug, or a new set of curtains.
If you find them visiting your home a little more often than you’d like – or if you notice tiny holes appearing in your clothes – you likely have a moth problem.
But what to do There are hundreds of anti-moth products out there, and it can be difficult to know which, if any, do the job right. That is why we contact pest control specialists directly.
How to spot moths
You may notice that moth activity is now increasing – although if an infestation occurs, it is likely that they have been out of sight for a while. Paul Blackhurst, director of the Technical Training Academy at Rentokil, explains that moths are present all year round, but at different stages in their life cycle.
“Eggs and larvae, for example, are often hidden, which protects them and makes them difficult to see,” he told HuffPost UK. “The development starts at a temperature of 10 ° C and up to 33 ° C, so that the development of heated properties could continue over the winter. In the warmer spring months, adult moths emerge from pupae. This time of year people can see more activity. “Oh joy.
There are thousands of species of moths in the UK, but there are two main groups you need to know about: house moths and clothes moths, both of which feed on and live in household textiles.
According to Natalie Bungay, British Pest Control Association (BPCA) technical and compliance officer, you should watch out for moths. These moths love to eat carpets and clothing that are sourced from animals (think wool, fur, feathers, cashmere) or that are made from natural fibers (linen, cotton, silk, etc.). They especially like older fabrics so transporting charity shops might turn out to be a real feast for them.
You may share your home with the common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella), which is a pale straw color with fringed wings, or the collapsible clothes moth (Tinea pellionella), which looks similar but has a slightly darker blotch color on its wings.
The other species of moth that “don’t necessarily do that much noticeable damage,” says Bungay, are house moths – especially the brown house moth (Hofmannophila pseudopretella).
These mostly eat animal products like fur and feathers and may live in old bird nests in the attic (if you have one). They have more gold sheen on their wings, are darker than clothes moths and have quite long antennae.
Keep moths at bay
Anyone who has ever had a moth infestation will know that once they settle in your home, it can be difficult to get rid of. Prevention is key – and the main way to prevent it is to take away its source of food.
If you have items in your house that a moth would love to nibble on, keeping them clean is important. Make sure you regularly vacuum carpets, approach corners and baseboards, and pull out bulky furniture to vacuum underneath. Moths tend to feed in a sheltered area, says Bungay, such as under couches and tables.
If you want to put your woolly winter sweaters away, wash them first, then store them in sealed boxes or bags. This is important because moths are attracted to human sweat, hair, and body oils that are left on clothing.
“People generally wash their clothes at lower temperatures to save energy and reduce environmental pollution. However, in order to kill larvae of clothing-eating moths, it is important to heat the infected fabric to 55 degrees, ”says Blackhurst.
If you can’t wash your clothes at a higher temperature, consider putting them in the freezer for a few days instead. “Moth eggs and larvae cannot survive freezing temperatures either. So if you think items are affected, you can put them in an airtight bag and freeze them for a few days, ”he adds.
When it comes to natural deterrents like mothballs and scented clothes hangers, Bungay does not recommend any specific recommendations “because they are generally not tested”.
And if house moths are a problem, remove any old disused bird nests in attics, behind eaves, and in outbuildings.
How to get rid of an infestation
You can find out that you have a fabric moth problem if your clothes and household items have small, random holes in them, Blackhurst says. On carpets, you may notice tiny tunnel tracks that the larvae had a good nibble on (yes, it’s not the winged adults that are doing the damage here).
Other signs of moth activity include larval drops, which can be difficult to spot as they take on the color of the material the larvae are consuming, and frass (basically larval droppings). Adult moths usually crawl in dark corners too, Blackhurst says. “In general, if you can count five to six moths in a room, the chances are you have a serious infestation.”
The long and short of it is that any carpet infestation will likely need to be handled by the professionals. You could put an insecticide on the carpet and stay active for a few weeks. “It kills adults and larvae, but it can’t get into the eggs,” says Bungay. This means that if an infestation is found, you will likely need multiple treatments.
“As with any infestation, prevention is better than cure, but if there is an infestation it is wise to seek professional advice,” says Blackhurst. “Textile moth treatments can be complex and require different solutions, depending on what is infected.”
For minor infections – for example in clothes – you can wrap them in a bag and put them in the freezer for two days as this kills all phases of life: from adults to larvae to eggs.
Alternatively, you can remove the infested carpet or rug and make sure you clean the floors properly and vacuum to the brim before installing new ones.